Positive affirmations have become a popular way to improve wellbeing, with many people using them as part of their mindfulness routine. In this blog we’ll explain what they are and how they work, and then you can decide if you want to give them a try.
So what exactly are positive affirmations? Put simply, they are positive statements that you say to yourself, and we use them to challenge unhelpful thoughts and beliefs. Have you ever been doing something really hard and you’ve said to yourself, ‘I can do this!’. This is a positive affirmation.
Positive affirmations can be done as part of a routine, for example, when you wake up or before you go to sleep, or they can be created and spoken as and when you need them. For example, if you are feeling a bit negative or lacking motivation or focus, positive affirmations can be really helpful in giving you that extra boost. When we repeat these affirmations over and over they become engrained in our mind, and we start to believe more and more the positive things we say to ourselves. This helps us to feel more positive and have a better self-image.
When you first start using positive affirmations, it can feel a bit strange as we aren’t a nation accustomed to voicing the positive, especially about ourselves. But once you get into it, the weird feeling does go away.
The benefits of positive affirmations are wide ranging. They can help us to feel positive and more optimistic; people who practice positive affirmations regularly are much more likely to see the glass as half full. We are also less likely to get sucked into and believe the negative thoughts we have, our negative self-talk. When we do have these negative thoughts, we can better recognise them as what they are and reject them as unhelpful.
Positive affirmations can also help us to forgive ourselves more easily when we feel we have messed up so that we do not to lose motivation. When we’ve set ourselves a new goal, for example, to meditate, do yoga, eat healthily, write in a gratitude journal, and we miss it for one day, it’s easy to think ‘well, I’ve ruined it now’ and give up. Positive affirmations can help us to stay focused and motivated when this happens, as of course it sometimes will. We can use positive affirmations to tell ourselves that we are still doing well and that we shouldn’t give up. They can help to decrease our stress levels, build resilience and make us more likely to cope better in a difficult or challenging situation. Finally, positive affirmations have also been linked to achieving goals and targets and are widely used in business and the sports industry.
So how do they work? Positive affirmations are effective due to neuroplasticity, or the re-wiring of the brain. We now know that our brains are not static once we reach adulthood; not that long ago scientists believed that brains were fixed and non-changing once we reached a certain age. The contrary is true – our brains are constantly re-wiring themselves and building new neural pathways. Unfortunately, our brain has a natural disposition to hold onto the negative, so in order to protect our mental health and wellbeing, it is important to do exercises to help bring our focus to the positive. Put simply, positive affirmations are one of the ways we can help our brain to re-wire to think more positively, optimistically and rationally.
When creating your positive affirmations keep them in the present tense ‘I am good with height’s’ rather than I will be good with heights. And avoid the double negative, for example ‘I am not scared of heights’ or your brain will latch onto the notion of fear.
Like with everything, when you first get started, it can be difficult to think of examples on your own.
Here are a few examples that you might like to use:
I am a successful person
I am confident
I am resilient and strong
I am creative
I am focused
I am energised, prepared and ready for the meeting
Positive affirmations are more effective if you come up with your own because you know better than anyone else which negative thoughts to challenge. They are also much more effective if they are in line with your beliefs and meaning.
And that is the basics of positive affirmations explained. We hope after reading this that you have a better idea of what affirmations are and will make them part of your daily routine. Like with any topic we write about on our blog, please get in touch with us if you have any questions or would like to have a chat about it with a member of our team.